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Thursday, May 12th, 2005

a long story about bad food

When I used to travel frequently, I was good at it. I had memorized the telephone numbers of the major airlines and SuperShuttle, and I had the “secret” VIP phone numbers to the local taxi dispatch services in two cities.

I packed light. I timed arrivals with finesse. I pressed Oxfords without an iron. I could effortlessly calculate the appropriate amount of tip for every skycap, bellhop, and driver, taking into account timeliness, native aroma, quality of directions to the nearest decent tacqueria and/or diving spot, and the number of times each had touched anything about his person that could fairly be called a “gland” before picking up my suitcase.

But then I changed careers, and then I changed careers again, and then I dumped the entire idea of a career for the idea of playing in a band. And then society dumped my idea of a band and I found a new career that was a lot more likely to give me some income against which to write off all those gargantuan CD-recording expenses, but in any case I wasn’t traveling so much any more and I basically forgot how.

When I first started out, I would pack at the last minute, because that’s when I did everything. (What did I do in the rest of the minutes? In fact all of my minutes were last minutes, which was a continual crisis of poor scheduling that I have only partially managed to overcome. Alas.) Then I got good, and it was OK to pack at the last minute, because that’s all the time it would take me anyway. But then I married, and my wife’s threshhold for travel readiness was a good 72 hours (4320 minutes) earlier than mine, and so for about 10 years I never had to pack at all — I’d just agree to a couple of shirts and pants, then sneak in a few spares when she wasn’t looking, owing to my philosophy that people who fly are a lot more likely to have an orange juice spilled on their laps on an airplane than people who don’t.

So anyway, a couple weeks ago I had to fly by myself to San Diego for Etech. I had planned my itinerary in advance (i.e. a couple hours before the flight) and somehow slipped a digit. My mental schedule had an item at 5:30 PM called “drive to airport” and another one at 6:15 PM called “flight leaves Oakland.” My scheduler has no dependency management or conflict resolution mechanism, or it might have red-flagged the fact that I’d planned to drive for an hour, ride a parking shuttle, check a bag, navigate whatever long-lined gropefest the TSA had in store, etc., in 45 minutes.

My wife caught the error. “Err, what time did you say your flight was?”

(ominous pause, during which, if I had to guess, my flight began boarding)


Followed by 20 minutes’ frantic last-minute packing, some hoping that the car had enough gas to get to Oakland, and no small amount of cursing.

I made the flight, against all odds, although usually that’s just the way it is, if you hang in long enough. Soon we were in the air (tonight). OK, somebody stop me, please.

TVP, it's what's for dinner. Unfortunately.While at the airport I had just enough time to inhale a heart-healthy dinner: steamed TVP on a damp bun. It was, in a word, badbadbad, and if you’ll afford me six more words it was moist in a really unpleasant way. It reminded me of a hamburger I ate on Amtrak once — which was so gross it might be singly responsible for the decline of the passenger-train industry in America.

Fortunately I had some nicer meals in San Diego.

posted to channel: Travel
updated: 2005-05-15 10:51:24

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